Recorded in New York in 1957 (though not released until 1962), Tijuana Moods was, according to Mingus himself, "the best album I ever made." The music is a vigorous stew of Mexican rhythms and sophisticated post-Ellington arrangements, further invigorated by the soloing of trumpeter Clarence Shaw, trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and, particularly, saxophonist Shafi Hadi. Mingus's vision of Tijuana was clearly sensual, the music evoking strippers, frenetic street scenes, and heart-broken lovers. Making use of suitelike thematic material and various forms of counterpoint, the group sounds much larger than it is, and points toward Mingus's later experiments with form.
Most often heard in large ensembles and rarely in a trio context, Charles Mingus joined forces with pianist Hampton Hawes for this 1957 studio date. It features four standards, two originals by the bassist, and a jam by the group credited to Hawes. While there's nothing particularly arresting or startling about the date, the relationship between the two ostensible co-leaders is a good case study in group dynamics when deference between two strong-willed individualists turns into a certain amount of compromise.
When he passed away in 1978, Charles Mingus left behind a 40-year legacy as one of jazz's most important bassists and prolific composers. He also left unfinished his most ambitious work, EPITAPH. Originally composed for an open recording session at New York's Town Hall in 1962, EPITAPH was marked by difficulty and the subsequent release was incomplete and disappointing. The idea and score then disappeared for more than 20 years.
This is an LP reissue of a set that was originally titled Pre Bird because it features some of the advanced originals that Charles Mingus wrote prior to hearing Charlie Parker. The bassist leads an undisciplined but colorful 25-piece orchestra on three titles including an Eric Dolphy feature on "Bemonable Lady" while the other five tracks are by a ten-piece (including two pianos) band; Lorraine Cousins sings "Eclipse" and "Weird Nightmare." It's an interesting set of typically unconventional music by Mingus.
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